Terms used when dealing with debt
You may come across some unusual words and phrases, for example from credit providers, the courts or bailiffs, when you are in debt.
An order asking you to make regular payments to the court, which then distributes the money to the people you owe money to.
When you are behind with payments (for rent or a loan, for example).
Attachment of earnings
When you have money taken out of your wages or benefits to pay off your debts.
Where the creditor asks the court to secure the debt to your home (or other property you have a financial stake in). This means that the creditor can apply to the court for an order to sell your home to get the money you owe.
Being sent to prison.
Suspended committal order
If the court gives you a suspended committal order because you have not paid your debts, it means that you won’t go to prison as long as you make payments of a certain amount that the court has worked out.
Conditional sale agreement
A way of borrowing money to buy things, similar to hire purchase. See ‘Hire-purchase (HP) problems’ for more information.
County Court Judgment (CCJ)
When the county court decides that a money debt must be repaid. The creditor can use methods including bailiffs, a charging order and attachment of earnings if you do not pay.
Someone you owe money to.
A formal warning that you have missed payments on a credit debt, and that court action may be started against you unless you bring the account up to date.
Where a creditor causes someone who owes them money ‘alarm, distress or humiliation’. The creditor can be prosecuted for this, and lose their licence to carry on their business.
Individual voluntary arrangement (IVA)
A legally-binding way of making an arrangement with creditors to pay back part of what you owe with a lump sum or instalments or both, in return for them not taking court action against you.
A court order that allows a landlord or mortgage lender to take steps to evict you from your home.
A consumer credit agreement that is regulated by the Consumer Credit Act 1974. This means that, among other things, you are entitled to a properly-written credit agreement and a ‘default notice’ before the creditor can take action against you, if you fall behind with payments and the right to apply for a time order (see below).
When a county court forces you to return to the creditor goods taken out under hire purchase.
Something you can ask the court for to stop interest adding up on the money you owe, and to reduce the instalments you have to pay.
Warrant of execution
This authorises county court bailiffs to threaten to take your belongings if you do not pay money you owe.
Additional sections in the Community Legal Advice leaflet 'Dealing with Debt':
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